Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Monday, March 31, 2014

A really frustrating day

We came into the office today to new computers. AGH!! Anyone else would probably be excited about the changes--but not me! It's so hard to make the transition because I always lose things in the process. Today was no exception! Maybe it'll be different when the offices elders get here but right now it's absolute frustration. Neither Elder L or I can access IMOS and I have NO documents! Probably 90% of what I do on most days involves those 2 programs. Not good. We came in at 7:30 in hopes of getting a jump on today's tasks but instead were now 3 hours behind.

When we left today there was still a pile of work to be completed--updating the template for the letter to incoming missionaries including a change in the bike policy and insurance, laminating to do for Sister Wall, baptism and confirmations to be recorded, things to be mailed that require computer assistance, commissary orders to be filled before Wednesday morning, new information to be absorbed about mostly outgoing travel itineraries, ordering flights, and staying up on whose IDs are current, etc.  Just little stuff like that.

The phone calls continued to be a bit out of the norm--and lots of them.  Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins all with some urgently pressing needs--or at least they thought they were.  But at least they were all addressed.  The bright spot in the day was a package for me!  What a fun surprise from a thoughtful and grateful mom.  Thanks Sister B!  I'm now the proud owner of The Power of Everyday Missionaries, a book I've been wanting to get, cute notepads which will be such a nice change from boring yellow lined ones, a fireman's hat (an inside story), a new mouse pad and my most favorite mint truffles. Jackpot!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

General Women's Meeting

The choir, led by Emily Wadley, sings at the General Women's Meeting at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 29, 2014. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Last night's General Women's Meeting at the Conference Center was nothing short of amazing.  The Spirit was so strong, beginning with the the opening hymn, "Hark All Ye Nations," one of my all-time favorite hymns, and the invocation by a new Beehive girl.  Talk about composed! She didn't sound like she might have been the least bit nervous praying in front of an audience of over 21,000 people--including the First Presidency!  Then a combined Primary, Young Women, Relief Society Choir sang a new number entitled "Daughters in My Kingdom," and I was in tears for almost the entire rest of the program--partly because of the feelings I was experience and a bit because I wasn't with any of my family.  Many years ago Danielle and I began attending all the RS Broadcasts together, then with Kimberlee last year, so this was a little bittersweet.  Enough of the reminiscing.  We'll go together again in 2015!

The theme of the meeting centered around making and keeping covenants and included two tender videos--one with clips of LDS girls and women from 8 countries and 9 languages singing "I Am A Child Of God," and another showing girls and women of different ages and stages supporting each other as they fulfilled their covenants from baptism and confirmation to the temple and grave.

Sister Wixom, the General Primary President, said that "keeping covenants protects us, prepares us and empowers us." She had the Primary girls stand and sing the first verse of "Teach Me to Walk" then the others joined in with the second and third verses.  Her point was that we can all walk in the Light of the Savior because our paths are lit with His love.

Bonnie L. Oscarson, the YW General President, said that to be sisters implies that there is a bond.  The adversary wants us to emphasize our differences by comparing ourselves to each other and feeling inadequate, but we should use our uniqueness in serving others.  There are no barriers when it comes to Christlike service.  If there are barriers we have created them. She quoted Sister Hinckley who said: "Oh how we need each other." I invite you to not only love each other more but love each other better.

In her remarks, Sister Linda K. Burton, General RS President, said to lay aside the things of the world and follow the Savior.  As disciples of Christ we are asked to do difficult things but we can't do them alone.  We can receive help through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, guidance by the Holy Ghost and with the help of others.  She said "you have been sent to earth in this dispensation of time because of who you are and what you have been prepared to do."

The concluding speaker was President Eyring, 1st Counselor in the First Presidency, who said that the path we must take on our journey back to Heavenly Father is marked by sacred covenants.  We were tutored by our Father in Heaven before we came into mortality.  He helped us understand and accept that we would have trials "perfectly chosen for us." We learned that the Plan of Happiness would help us get through trials and we would help others through theirs.  To do this we make covenants which only a few of His daughters have the opportunity to do in this life.  We are daughters in the covenant. Heavenly Father sees our great potential, even more than our earthly mothers can see.  This gives us a great responsibility.  We need to treat everyone we meet as a child of God.

This meeting is always such a wonderful lead in to next weekend and General Conference.  I can't wait!

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Most Unusual Day

We arrived at the office today at 7:30, and by 8:30 these 3 sets of shelves were neat and clean (and I needed to go home for another shower)!  Yes, a before and after shot would've been more impressive, but it didn't happen.  They weren't horrible, but now there's some extra space and a few of the things we don't use (like 2 cases of pass along cards for the Laie, Hawaii Temple) are out of reach where I can't see them.  Really, what on earth did someone order those for.  I'd send them to Hawaii, but the cost would be prohibitive.

There's still plenty of work to do in here and in the bigger back room, but we just received our new computers and monitors and things are all over for obvious reasons.  When we left tonight Elder Watkins was setting mine up. That just strikes fear into my heart because  every time we replace our home computer something or many somethings get lost.  I'm not sure what I'll do if that happens.  I'd never be able to recreate email lists and who knows what else.  Good luck Elder W.  I'll be praying very hard that everything was backed up a transfers without a hitch!

Today was the oddest conglomerations of needs and tasks that I've had since starting.  Here's just a little sampling of the day.

Elder B's mom called to give some information to President Wall.  She wasn't asking him to deliver the message.  She'll do that in her email on Monday.  She just felt that the Pres needed to know the situation.  A good friend, age 19, from our elder's home stake, was accidentally killed by a gunshot.  I didn't delve into the circumstances but can certainly see why Pres Wall should be informed.  Pres Wall happened to be finishing a meeting in the office and was visibly sad but appreciated getting the news.

On a happier note, I learned how to get incorrect data changed in Church Data Entries.  Elder M had come in for the meeting and asked it he'd done the Baptism and Confirmation form correctly.  He was in the training meeting when Sister Olsen explained how to properly fill out the form.  As I reviewed it I remembered wondering if the preferred name was really accurate.  One thing I discovered today is that if I slightly question any of the entries, call the elder that did the baptism interview.  I didn't do that and as a result the entry was incorrect.  In my defense, Elder M agreed that what should have been an "r" did, in fact, look like an "n."  I actually found the correct SLC phone number and our problem was solved.  Hooray!

Even the commissary orders that came in today were a bit unusual.  There are several things we don't keep on hand in large quantities, like auxiliary manuals, things for Young Men and Young Women programs, and other odds and ends.  Wouldn't you know that today would be the day that everyone would want what's not on the shelves--Principios del Evangelio (6 copies), Ensenanzas de los Presidentes de la Iglesia--Joseph F. Smith (6 copies), For the Strength of Youth pamphlets (20) are just a few of the requests.  I suggested they get them through their wards since they're not typically missionary tools.  I'm not saying they aren't good resources, but just not something we generally furnish.

Elder B's mom called Monday to say that Pres Wall needed to sign her son's ecclesiastical endorsement before she could register him for classes at BYU.  I mentioned it to the president at our Monday meeting.  He's always so good to take care of those things.  He'd just done one the day before and Elder B's name wasn't on the list.  Mom called Tuesday, and I explained what Pres Wall said on Monday. Mom called on Wednesday, and I told her Pres Wall wasn't home for a few days as he was attending meetings in other parts of the vineyard. Well, I didn't say it quite like that. DAD called on Thursday, and I was tempted to tell him that it's a good thing Elder B isn't in Russia.  Told him the same thing I told mom on Wednesday.  Marc corralled Pres Wall before the meeting this morning and told him what was going on.  Poor man! Does he ever get a minute to himself?  Probably not. Nobody called today!!

Received a call from Miss Sarah.  I've spoken to her before.  More like she's spoken to me before. She's blind, her moher was blind and her grandmother was blind.  I think she's just a very lonely woman who needs to talk to someone.  I referred her to 2 of our sweet Baton Rouge sister.  They've been to her home and she wanted to visit with them again but misplaced their phone number.  I called them to say Miss Sarah would like them to come again.  They were there this morning.  Oh dear!

Saints Unified Voices (Gladys Knight's choir) are coming here to sing at the Baton Rouge Stake Center in April.  I'm not going into the myriad of details involved with this activity but was informed that we need to have on hand 400 copies of the Book of Mormon and 400 copies of The Restoration DVD.

Someone from the referral desk in Utah called about a referral we'd received in January.  I'd dropped it because the address was non-existant, and without an address you can't figure out what ward boundaries a person is in or which missionaries to assign.  The phone number wasn't a local one so we had no information to go on other than he lives in Baton Rouge.  Let's see.  We have about 17 sets of missionaries in BR. I gave it to the Zone Leaders.  They have a little more flexibility on making phone calls.  Missionaries aren't supposed to make calls outside their districts, but with cell phones it's pretty hard to know who's in and who's out.  It's now in the hands of Elder J and Elder C.

One last matter, then I think that's about enough of today's encounters.  Last Monday at our office meeting President Wall mentioned a that Elder Kopischke had quoted Elder Bednar when he (Elder K) was here for some training the week before. President wanted to know what the pamplet was as he hadn't seen it before and really wanted to have our missionaries hear it and benefit from it.  I found a quote similar to what Pres. Wall stated in an October 2011 Conference talk by Elder David A. Bednar.

In his address, Elder Bednar invited all, and particularly the young people of the Church, to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah.  Then he said, "I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.” (From “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn”) What a powerful promise that is and well worth expending some energy in that direction!

President Wall was SO happy when I showed him a copy of the pamphlet and the back page with the quote.  I ordered 200 today!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Good-bye Sister Carolan

Sweet Sister Carolan returns to Minnesota tomorrow.  I really know nothing about her but have heard that she's been a wonderful missionary and that she likes Hershey's Take 5 candy bars. So I put a few in the go-home packet that she'll receive at the Mission Home tonight.  The Wall's will probably take her to dinner, she'll spend the night there then catch an 8 am flight that will consume 12 hours and 2 plane changes!

I spent a good part of the day cleaning the back backroom.  After the elders cleaned out numerous old files they (the old files, not the elders) found their way to the shelves in the back.  They were spilling all over, had tabs that needed to be removed, and needed to be contained.  So that's what I did.  That room is far from perfect, but with a bit more quality time it'll be easier to find and store DVDs, pamphlets, books, cards, files, envelopes, stationery, carpet shampooers, cleaning supplies, buckets, ironing boards and other thingamabobs and whatchamacallits.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Elder Asuoa's Samoa

Last night, after we left the office, we took a trip to Sam's Club to buy a new paper shredder for the office.  When Elder Adkins put it out today the bin was almost impossible to open and it made a funny jingling sound so Elder L took Elders A & W with him to exchange it. The new one still jingles (apparently that's normal) but it opens and actually shreds 20 pages with staples just like it says on the box.  That's not the point of this post. While they were out of the office for 1 1/2 hours I visited the whole time with Elder Asuoa and learned a lot about him and about American Samoa.

American Samoa is a US territory but self-governing under their own constitution.  The capitol is Pago Pago, and the main island is only 76 square miles. Before Elder A came on his mission he was going to school and working as a tour guide, which he really enjoyed doing, but said that he was limited to what he could do or sometimes needed an interpreter because he had limited English.  The tours went around the island to some of the historical sights, a pond where a shark and sea turtle live together (I need to hear more about this story) then ended at the large hut, the fale o'o, to have a traditional Samoan meal which would include roast pig, rice, and lots of tropical fruits.  Sounds to me like Samoa would be a wonderful port for a cruise!!

The Temple is in Apia, which is the capitol of Samoa, an independent country.  It used to be called Western Samoa and gained independence from New Zealand in 1962.  Elder A says his ward takes temple trips during the summer. They're on the same seasonal schedule as the US even though it's always summer there!  They fly to Apia, about a half hour flight, then stay in Samoa for a week and do several sessions.

After Elder Asuoa returns home in May from his mission he'll go back to college and possibly study computer science.  He'll also be a great leader in the church! Have I mentioned how much I love our missionaries?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hooray! A busy day!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Elder Murray and Count Leo Tolstoy

It was SO nice to have a lot to do today.  When we arrived there were things to accomplish before the office meeting--calendar, missionary arrivals and departures (a list for Pres. Wall so he can see on one page how many sisters & elders and Spanish sisters & elders will be coming and going in the next 3 months), birthday cards, any questions I have for Pres. Wall and a few other items.

After the meeting there are always things to do and assignments and tasks to be completed.  And the mail arrived while we were meeting--lots of mail!  Mail that needed to be forwarded, sorted, organized, catalogued, or whatever you can do with mail.  Elder Lauper and Elder Fontenot made their 3rd trip to Natchez in a week and were able to sign a lease so the elders could get out of a very unhealthy location.  There have been some events in their apartment complex that justify getting them out before the end of the month.  It's interesting that, even though apartments are difficult to find in that location, you can see the Lord's hand in little miracles that have occurred make a change in their environment.  The Lord looks out for His obedient servants!  On the first trip Elders L & F went to see a house that looked very good on the internet but, in reality, was trashed. They went to 4 other apartments without success, then went to lunch with the elders who suggested one other location close to the church and in a nice area.  It would have been perfect except there nothing was available. Through a series of events over the next week something surprisingly opened up and the very accommodating landlady offered the apartment to Elder F over others on a waiting list, pulled workers off other jobs to paint and clean, and they signed the lease which allowed the elders to move today!

I had the opportunity to visit with Elder Murray, on the left. He's one of the 21 missionaries who'll be leaving in August. His plan is to return home, then move to Provo to live with his brother and wife until he can get a job, an apartment and begin school.  He worked the year in between high school and his mission so he'll be starting fresh in the fall without a clue what he'll be studying.  I'm not exactly sure how we got on the subject of Crime and Punishment and Dostoevsky, but Elder M was sharing some quotes that leads me to want to read the book.  I asked him if he was familiar with the quote in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder about Leo Tolstoy.  He wasn't so I printed off a copy for him as he ran out the office door. When War and Peace was required reading in my last semester of college I decided that if Tolstoy see the church for what it was, I could certainly give him and his 1600 pages a chance.  I loved the peace parts much better than the war but can still say I've read it!  Here's the quote:

Count Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian author, statesman, and philosopher, held [this] opinion as to the possible future destiny of the "American religion" founded under the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Thomas J. Yates related an experience he had while a student at Cornell University in 1900. He had the privilege of meeting Dr. Andrew D. White, former president of Cornell and, at the time, U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Upon learning that Mr. Yates was a Mormon, Dr. White made an appointment to spend an evening with him, at which time he related an experience he had had with Count Tolstoy while serving as U.S. Foreign Minister to Russia in 1892. Dr. White visited often with Count Tolstoy, and upon one occasion they discussed religion. We quote from Elder Yates' account of this discussion, as related to him by Dr. White:

“Dr. White," said Count Tolstoy, "I wish you would tell me about your American religion."

"We have no state church in America," replied Dr. White.

"I know that, but what about your American religion?"

Patiently then Dr. White explained to the Count that in America there are many religions, and that each person is free to belong to the particular church in which he is interested. 

To this Tolstoy impatiently replied: "I know all of this, but I want to know about the American religion. Catholicism originated in Rome; the Episcopal Church originated in England; the Lutheran Church in Germany, but the Church to which I refer originated in America, and is commonly known as the Mormon Church. What can you tell me of the teachings of the Mormons?" 

"Well," said Dr. White, "I know very little concerning them. They have an unsavory reputation, they practice polygamy, and are very superstitious."

Then Count Leo Tolstoy, in his honest and stern, but lovable, manner, rebuked the ambassador. "Dr. White, I am greatly surprised and disappointed that a man of your great learning and position should be so ignorant on this important subject. The Mormon people teach the American religion; their principles teach the people not only of Heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this Church, nothing can stop their progress -- it will be limitless. There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known." 

Because of his discussion with Count Tolstoy, upon his return to the United States Dr. White secured a set of the Church works and placed them in the Cornell University Library.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Baptism in Plaquemine!

Today was a very special day for the Plaquemine Branch because, after our meetings, we had a baptism!  Chino, a 16 year old, was baptized by President Hebert, the Branch President.  We've been asked to not take pictures of the baptism or put pictures of converts on public websites, thus, no pics today.

The program was so outstanding!  Sister Thornley and Sister Hill (pictures on Feb 9 post) spoke on Faith and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  I'm amazed at the ability they both have of taking experiences from their short lifetimes and making analogies with the Gospel.  So impressive.

Sister Thornley began with the scripture from Proverbs 3:5-7.  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil." Then she shared with us how she loved working with her dad to help "fix things" on his semi.  He drove a tanker type milk truck and went around to the dairies in their area, picked up milk, and delivered it to the cheese factory. (Sister T is from Tremonton in northern Utah.) She liked voluntarily getting up early in the mornings and helping clean the huge cylinder. She said it was fun but also hard work. She and her sister would climb up the ladder on the side of the truck. Dad would lower another ladder down the inside so they could get inside to clean, then he'd remove the ladder. They enjoyed splashing, sloshing and sliding, but in addition to being much like a Louisiana hot and humid July day, it was also very dark and a bit scary for two young girls. Dad would remind the girls that he was just a holler away if they needed him. Then came the lesson. We made the choice to come to this earth and be away from our Father in Heaven, much like the sisters made the choice to go down inside the dark cylinder of the truck.  But He's only a holler--a prayer--away.  Sometimes it can be frightening and dark living in this world, but we can exercise our faith. Our prayers will bring us closer to our Father, even though we can't see Him. Like Sister Thornley's dad was always there for her, our Father in Heaven is always there for us. John 14:18 "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."

Sister Hill is from Colorado Springs but attended Mills College in Oakland.  I'm wondering if she used to live in California, because she used to wonder why there were no streetlight along the southern coast, so she did some checking. Female sea turtles make their nests in the Southern California beaches. After they lay their eggs they return to the sea, leaving the nests and the eggs to develop on their own. As the eggs hatch, the hatchlings have to find their own way to the sea.  When the babies emerge, they instinctively move in the brightest direction.  Normally, this would be the night sky and the moon reflecting on the ocean. A large danger for them is from artificial lighting.   Street lights or other artificial lights, because the are brighter than the natural light, cause them to crawl in the wrong direction, thus decreasing their already slim chance for survival.  The Lesson:  The Holy Ghost is like the moon. Sometimes it's not as obvious as other influences and artificial lights of the world.  We need to pay closer attention to the light of the Holy Ghost and do our best to block out artificial light.

I tried Sister Wall's super easy and fast "King Ranch Enchiladas" recipe and highly recommend it!  She served it at a leadership training conference to about 75 people so it's been scaled down to 9x13 size. It's fine without garlic and cumin, since I didn't have either. Also, use cheap soup as you can't tell the difference. I hope you have the Birdseye holy trinity.  That's what it's called down here.  And it's so much easier than all that chopping.

King Ranch Enchiladas

2-3 chicken breasts, baked and shredded (or rotisserie chicken)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 C diced onions, celery & peppers (frozen mix)
1 t minced garlic
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
Mix above ingredients to make sauce.

2 C shredded cheese
10 corn tortillas

Use a 9” x 13” pan
Place 1 C of sauce on the bottom
Layer: 5 tortillas
          2 C sauce
          1 C cheese
          5 tortillas
          2 C sauce
          1 C cheese

There weren’t any baking instructions.  I did 350 for 40 min.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Six Great Missionaries

Here are our 2 office elders, the assistants, Sister Wily and Sister Baird. They're all in the same district and go to the Baton Rouge 3rd Ward. A lady in their ward is taking them all to lunch at PF Chang's along with 2 other people, at least one being an investigator. So they met at the office then all went together in the van. I'd like to think that the elders' moms taught them about letting the ladies have the seats, but you wouldn't know it from this picture!

While Elder Lauper was doing whatever it was that he came to the office to do, I had a chance to visit with Sister Baird.  (She and Sister Wily are companions.) She was telling me about a service project her district had done for a non-member.  The story is so unbelievable and horrible.  I'm thinking that this happened not too long before Christmas. The woman and her daughter, a girl in her late teens, were home when the husband/father came in and shot the woman in the heart with a hollow point bullet.  Then he went to the stairs and shot and killed the daughter, who was coming out of her room upstairs, and killed himself.  What a tragedy.  Somehow the woman survived but was in a coma for some time.  When she came out of it she found that "friends" she knew but hadn't seen for 5 years had the daughter cremated, which she had specifically not wanted, but her wishes were ignored.

If that wasn't enough to deal with, the woman's sister and husband then came down from New York to "help out." Their way of helping was to pretty much lock the woman in her room, take what they wanted and trash the house. And now the parents of the dead husband are trying to take the house.  It goes to court next week.  It never ceases to amaze me what people will do for money and material things.  Sister Baird and Sister Wily will be returning sometime soon to check on her in hopes that she might be ready to listen to the good things they could share with her.

It seems like I've mentioned Sister Baird before, but if not, she's one of the newest sisters, arriving with Sister Mishko, Elder Casillas and the others, in New Orleans instead of Baton Rouge because of the cancelled flight.  She's the sister from Arizona that we met in Cedar City when she was a student last year at SUU.  Sister Wily is Samoan, but hails from West Jordan, and was playing the ukulele when we came into the office today!

Tonight we went out to dinner at Bistro Byronz and to a play at Theater Baton Rouge (a community theater) with President and Sister Riggs. Pres. Riggs is the Baton Rouge Stake President.  What nice people they are and so enjoyable to be with.  Dinner was so good, and we'll definitely be returning.  So, the definition of a Louisiana Bistro is an unpretentious neighborhood restaurant where people gather day and night to relax, share conversation and enjoy good food at a reasonable price.  Perfect! My kind of place.  Marc had the Debris Sandwich (very tender pot roast on a bun with "real mashed potatoes") and I had the Veggie Gratin (vegetables and pasta in a nice sauce with mozzarella cheese.) Delish for everyone.  The play was Young Frankenstein.  I know. I know. Mel Brooks is a bit risky as a missionary, but we figured it was okay if we were with the Stake Pres.  It was well done with pretty good acting and great sets.  The music was the best! Was the Gene Wilder version a musical.  I didn't remember that it was.  All I could remember was "abi-normal," "hump, what hump?" and "Puttin' on the Ritz!"  Very funny and a very fun night!

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Slower Than Molasses"

The title pretty much describes this day. It's so dead around here. The office elders left before we came to the office to go a dozen places including a meeting at the Stake Center and District Meeting.  Elder Fontenot wasn't in today. He has family coming from North Carolina for the weekend. So, to fill up the hours, I've read my scriptures, prepared a Relief Society lesson for Sunday, made files & printed cards, summaries & labels for the April incoming elders and sisters, got the referrals up to date, cleaned out existing files in the drawer and replaced some tattered files. And that was before noon.

The brightest part of the day is always when we're visited by the missionaries--especially the sisters because we can hug!! These are 3 of  our Spanish sisters.  They live here in Baton Rouge--actually about 2 blocks from our apartment.  Sister Astle, on the left, is from St. George.  I've written about her before.  She's a sweetheart. Well, all of them are. She came out last October so she'll be released about 2 months before we are.  We plan on getting together post-mission.  Sister Carolan, center, will be released next week to go home to Minnesota.  And Sister Mishko, an Arizona girl, is one of our newest sisters.  She arrived in the mission with the last transfer--one of the group who came from the Mexico City MTC and had their Dallas to Baton Rouge flight cancelled so flew into New Orleans.  They're having a baptism tomorrow and needed to print a few programs and laminate bookmarks they'd made for their new members.  Those look like 3 very happy faces to me!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fun Phone Calls

I'm glad it wasn't too busy today because there were lots of fun phone calls.

Elder W's older brother wanted to wish his missionary brother a happy one year on his mission and tell him that he loved him. So I called Elder W to give him the message.  I think it made him pretty happy to know that someone was thinking about him.

Elder B called to see if we could get some copies of the Book of Mormon and Bibles to his Zone Leaders to bring to him. After we got that taken care of I asked if there was anything else he needed. He said he'd like more money on his support card.  I told him Elder Lauper was out of the office and he's the one to talk to.  That's not really anything we can do, but I did ask and he did tell me.  We had a good conversation about budgeting, getting an education and a good job.  He says he doesn't ever want to have to be quite this frugal again!

Elders B called about a golden contact who moved to IL. He said it was the best investigator of his whole mission and just wanted to be sure that the missionaries followed up, because he was giving them a baptism.  I sent out the referral to the new mission with a brief explanation about the contact.

Sister P called about faxing us her missionary's DMV report so said missionary would be able to drive. I assured her that we love her missionary who's in very good hands with 3 other companions who are stellar missionaries.  

The picture is Elder Asuoa and Elder Casillas who are on an exchange.  Elder Casillas is the one who called from the Dallas airport to let us know that their flight to Baton Rouge had been cancelled. That was probably on the March 4 or 5 post.  Apparently Elder C was on the pay phone with Travel Lady from Salt Lake who had President Wall on the other line, and Elder C was going between Travel Lady and the agent at the airline counter and managing it all quite well.  Great Guy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Outside the Office

I'll bet your Bass Pro Shop doesn't look like the one in Denham Springs, LA, unless yours IS the one in Denham Springs.  It comes complete with it's own little bayou.  No, I didn't take this picture but borrowed it from the internet.  Mine just wasn't quite as all-inclusive.

It also has a very large snapping turtle.  This guy never brought his head out in the open where I could see it but his shell is about 4' long and the tail adds another foot.

And then there's Donnie, the racoon.  He's asleep in the  coon hammock and also never put his head up. Donnie is 11 years old and was born in the wilds of Missouri but was hurt when he was a baby. He got better, but the vet didn't think he'd be able to survive in the great outdoors because he couldn't get food for himself.  He lived at the Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield, MO for 6 1/2 years befor moving to the Bass Pro Shop in Denham Springs.  He's very curious, has many friends and his favorite game is hide and seek.  Sometimes he paces around his cage because his friend, Drew, hides things like grapes, bananas and treats to find and eat.

I love the cypress trees and moss.  It's like this everywhere!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Baton Rouge--the Capitol

We took our lunch time to drive to the capitol and see the city from the tallest state capitol in the US. The top picture is taken from the observation deck of the 27th floor, 350 feet up, and overlooks some of the port of Baton Rouge and capitol gardens.  It only take 10 minutes to get from the mission office to the capitol--not exactly like going into downtown Los Angeles.

We even had time to eat lunch.  Drumroll please! Marc had red beans and rice with sausage and cornbread! Such a brave man:)  I had okra and greens.  Southern food is YUM!

On our way out we passed this beautiful camelia bush in full bloom.

The Elders came to dinner tonight.  Elder Adkins snapped this one of Elder Watkins ready to eat lime jello and pears--2 of his favorites.  Lucky for him it was St. Patrick's Day and it fit right in with our traditional menu.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Orleans 1st Ward

We attended our meetings this morning at the New Orleans 1st Ward--an older building that's been beautifully renovated. It may have been since Katrina, but I'm not sure.  There are four sets of missionaries that attend there even though they don't all serve in the same areas.  We didn't get as much time as I would've liked to visit but had a few minutes with 2 of our California sisters, Sister Hafford and Sister Hild.  They love serving together because they understand "California Culture!"  Sister Hafford is from Pleasanton and came into the mission on our first transfer, and Sister Hild is from Monterey Bay and has been out about 9 months. Sweethearts! Aren't they all? A PS on Sister Hild--Wed, April 2.  Sister Hild spoke to Pres Wall last week so I was anticipating her phone call.  She's going home a few weeks early so she can start one of her graduate classes at Cal (Berkeley).  I had no idea she'd even graduated from college.  Anyway, as I think I mentioned before, we can't change release dates more than 30 days in either direction so I was a little concerned.  I told her I'd check and get back to her thinking that Pres Wall might need additional approval.  What great luck!  The requested date to be changed was 29 days.  Good for Sister Hild!

After church we took a quick drive through the Garden District, which is the area where the chapel is and is also the area we'd plan on seeing yesterday on the trolley.  Unfortunately there was a parade (these people love their parades) and the trolley couldn't go on most of the route because it was also the parade route.  I took some pictures of homes in the area but know nothing about them, so here they are from a moving vehicle.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

New Orleans - Take Two

The Train Car Experience
After a beautiful drive along the I-10 we began our day at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. To honor Marc's Uncle Ralph, Marc became a charter member of the museum, not knowing if he'd ever have the opportunity to see or experience it. This is a real bonus to have been called to serve in Louisiana.  "It celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front."     

Our first stop in the museum was the "Train Car Experience," a simulation of what it might have been like to leave home and go off to war, not knowing if you'd ever return. What an emotional way to begin a day of patriotism. We walked through the train station and onto the Pullman car, then the train left the station. It was tear jerking to feel how some of them must've felt as they left home--some for the last time. The train actually began to rumble and the film leaving the station and crossing the countryside began to roll outside the windows.   

"Beyond All Boundaries" is a 4D film that briefly covers from Pearl Harbor & the US involvement in the war "into the fire of epic battles to America's final victory." But prior to the film is a pre-show that sets the stage and gives a glimpse into life in America in the late 30's & early 40's when our armed forces had more horses than tanks and our military was ranked 18th in the world, after Romania!  I didn't know that!                                                                                                                                                  As for the actual film, narrated by Tom hanks, there are hardly words to express my feelings of gratitude and reverence for the millions who gave their lives in "The War That Changed The World."  I could give a thorough description of the movie, thanks to the internet, but that would just be paraphrasing others. So an expression of my feelings will have to do.   
For years I've looked at the pictures of Eisenhower down our hallway without appreciating them to the fullest, listened to Kimberlee recite "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" (a poem about Iwo Jima) and pushed a button and listened to Eisenhower's D-Day message "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! . . The eyes of the world are upon you.  You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. . .The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. Your task will not be an easy one. . . Good Luck! And let us all beseech blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

But my appreciation goes much deeper now, and I wish every American would see this film. 
The last line of the film says something looks "this film is dedicated to all those who sacrifice to preserve liberty."  And I will add this scripture from John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

So my eternal gratitude to those who've made it possible for me, my children, my grandchildren and generations to come, to grow up in this land, "choice above all other lands," where I can think, speak, worship, pray, read, work, love, travel because you helped make it possible.  God Bless You and God Bless America!

Before leaving we had lunch at Chef John Besh's restaurant, American Sector, "on-campus" at the museum. I've known about Chef Besh's cooking talents for years but what I didn't know is that he's a former marine who did a 10 month tour in Desert Storm and says that the museum represents sacred ground.  In his words: "I'm in awe of the sacred ground that this institution represents by honoring the lives and valor of those that kept us free from tyranny.  It's my honor to be a partner in that."  This may not be one of his upscale restaurants but fun nonetheless. I tried the Perfect Pig Po'boy (pork shoulder, pork belly, ham & marinated vegetables) while Marc expanded his culinary horizon to try apple cider vinegrette on his chef salad. Baby steps but still something new!  When we left my eating space looked like a 2 year old had dined there! The roll was so light and crusty and crumbs went everywhere--table, chair & floor.  My apologies to the clean up committee:(  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Office Raid

Caught red handed!  The elders are raiding the candy jar.  Well I hope so.  (That's why we keep filling it up:)  Right now the favorites are kit kats, snickers and peanut butter cups.  That's Elder Ackerman on the left.  I don't think he's been introduced yet.  Elder Griffin, on the right, is Elder Asuao's new companion--an assistant. But they're on exchanges for 24 hours so Elder Asuao is elsewhere today.

Elder Adkins and Elder Watkins are moving things out of another apartment today and will fortunately have the help of Elder Griffin and Elder Ackerman.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Peace and Quiet

When it's peaceful and quiet that means there aren't very missionaries coming in and out of the office. Bummer!  The phone didn't even ring many times, so I actually had time to read scriptures and the Church News.

It also gave me some thinking time, and one of the things I pondered was why I'm loving this mission so much.  Here are just a few reasons.

1.  So many wonderful people to meet--missionaries, church members, new friends I've made on the phone, delivery people (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.  Love the UPS lady!)
2.  Finding out that you can teach an old dog new tricks.  It's good to know that I can still learn as a senior, particularly computer stuff (But don't expect me to be an expert when we get home.) and improved phone skills.
3.  I've been pushed out of my comfort zone and it's okay.
4.  I can actually curb a sharp tongue!
5.  There are new places to see and experience--plantations, museums, bayous & swamps, the culture and foods, etc. We're looking forward to many new adventures.
6.  In our small way we're able to contribute to "hastening the work" as President Monson has asked.
7.  Everyday, almost all day, we're serving others.  It feels so good to get up every morning and know that we have an important work to do--something with significant purpose.
8.  I am reminded regularly that the Lord is in charge, and if you will allow Him to work through you, there is something far more important than self.
9.  Life is much simpler--the way we dress, the way we eat, the way we live in general--and it's really nice.
10. I can make a difference.

Looking over what I've just written makes me think that it would make more sense if I'd write in the morning.  There are so many other thought that I have, but they're not coming together in my head or on paper.  Best I put this entry and myself to bed!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Getting Into The Routine

Nothing new to report today.  Elder Lauper and Elder Fontenot had to make a quick trip to Natchez, MS to find another location for the elders.  Where they're living is less than desirable, but nothing was actually finalized.  They left the office at 8 and didn't return till after 3, so it was just me and lots of elders coming and going. One pair brought in a bike that need to be taken to a sister.  Two other pairs were on exchanges so the made the switch at the office.  Elder Asoua was also on an exchange so he and his 24 hour companion came in for awhile.

And, of course, Elders Adkins and Watkins were their usually busy selves--coming and going and trying to meet the needs of so many.  They picked up a washer and dryer yesterday and installed the dryer in one of the apartments.  I'm not sure where the "new" (more like reconditioned) washer went, but they took the old ones somewhere else today.  They also came over this evening to borrow cupcake tins and ended up staying for dinner.  We'd already eaten, and I'm totally embarrassed about what we served them.  I'd wouldn't be caught dead serving this if the missionaries were coming to eat with us at home.  Well, they got ham sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls and what was left of our meatballs and noodles.  Talk about pathetic.  Did I really just post this admission on a public website?  I intend to make it up to them on Monday when they come for St. Patrick's Day dinner.

My day was a repeat of things I've done before, but at least the tasks are becoming more familiar and easier. How does that quote go by Heber J. Grant?  I had to look it up.  "That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but our power to do so is increased." I certainly hope so!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

One of the Beauties of Louisiana

Just capturing a bit of the Louisiana sky as the sun sets slowly in the west.

Most of the morning was spent with the usual office duties. We only received notification of 3 new missionaries--all coming in July.  (President Wall assures me that plenty more will be coming.) After getting their packets ready to go out I did a little reorganizing in the files and worked on incoming cards and summaries. They're time consuming, but that doesn't bother me because this is how I get to know the new elders and sisters before they actually arrive.

Elder Lauper and Elder Fontenot went out on a washer-dryer hunt since we have a few machines in the area that need replacing.  While they were gone I worked through lunch, and it's amazing how much you can get accomplished when no one is in the office and the phone isn't ringing.  The office elders had gone to their district meeting then the district always goes out to lunch.  Then most of the district came back to the office because 3 of them needed TIWI cards.  I'm not sure that I've explained these, but from what I understand you can't drive without them.  I may have called them tattle-tale cards at one time. They look like a credit card and have to be swiped somewhere in the car before driving.  You can actually drive, but it will be reported.  It records pretty much everything you do, like speeding, seat belts not on, using the car for more than 8 hours, etc.  If you don't cut your speed or make other needed corrections it's all reported.  Elder Lauper gets weekly reports and reviews them to see if the missionaries are in compliance with the rules.  You do NOT want Elder Lauper to place a red dot on your driving file!

I spent most of the afternoon at the Mission Home working with Sister Wall and the Assistants on updating the mission website.  Thank goodness the Assistants will be doing most of the computer work. I have a few assignments, but most of them involve updating a mission bike policy and letter to the new missionaries that I've already typed.  It just needs to be coordinated with the website. Whew!

This is just another little plaque that the Wall's have in their family room. President Wall uses this quote regularly.  Well, I'm beginning to look like I have tons of friends!

Remember our visa waiter who left for Brazil not too long ago.  His mom sent the recipe for the cake that Elder B shared with us in the office.  He said it had 3 packages of cream cheese. Fortunately he was wrong. It was only 1.  Mom also sent a butter cookie recipe that looks pretty darned good.  So here they are.  I highly recommend the cake, having already tasted it's deliciousness.  As missionary mom says, "Enjoy!"

Gooey Butter Cake

1 yellow cake mix (I usually use Betty Crocker Butter Recipe)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick butter (melted)
4 eggs
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2-1/4 cups powdered sugar

Grease 9x13" pan. (I use PAM.)  Mix cake mix, 2 eggs, and melted butter.  Spread evenly into pan.  In another bowl, mix cream cheese, 2 eggs, and powdered sugar until smooth.  Pour over mixture in pan.  Bake 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees or until nice and lightly brown on top.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar once cake has cooled, or just before serving.  Enjoy!

Gooey Butter Cookies
Cream together:

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter (no substitutes) softened

Then add:

1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. yellow cake mix

Mix all together, then chill dough for 30 minutes.  Roll dough into walnut-size balls, roll in powdered sugar, then bake on cookie sheet sprayed with PAM.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes.  (The bottoms will brown nicely when done, much like a sugar cookie.) Remove from oven and let cool.  Once cooled, sprinkle tops of cookies with powdered sugar.  Makes approximately 3 dozen cookie.  They are a soft cookie...don't expect them to last very long...they go quickly at our house! :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Flying Solo!

The Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission has now been turned over to Elder and Sister Lauper. The Olsen's left Saturday morning so it's up to us to keep this mission temporally afloat.  We both had a mountain of work to do today.  I should've taken a picture of my desk after our morning meeting.  I honestly didn't think it would all get completed by day's end, but it did! But we certainly aren't working bankers hours.  I walked into the office at 7:25 am and out at 5:45 but was determined to get it all accomplished knowing full well that tomorrow will bring a whole new set of things to do.  Remember, tomorrow's Tuesday and with that comes the incoming missionary list.  Since we have 21 leaving in August I'm waiting for the replacements to bombard me.  Yeah! More missionaries. Bring 'em on.  I love them all.

Today's office picture is Elder Lauper hard at work organizing his accounts payable.  I'm not even going to pretend to know how all of that works.  There's plenty of other things to keep me busy.

We've finally managed to break the Olive Garden cycle--3 weeks without going there and it's been a nice break.  We've been to Voodoo's bar-b-q (nice place for Mormon Missionaries), a soup and sandwich place similar to Panera, and today it was Frank's.  Didn't we just have breakfast there on Satuday? Why, yes we did!  But they do have delicious biscuits, and Sister Wall loves biscuits, so it was a success.

By the time we got back to the office Elder Adkins and Elder Watkins had gone for their P-Day and Elder Fontenot was on his way home, so it was very quiet.  Marc and I sat in the same office at our computers and neither one of us said a word.  I'm not sure what he was so diligently doing, but I was shredding old files, getting out the birthday cards (4), sending out 4 month letters to the July go-homes (10), shredding, cataloging a very large order from distribution (about 20 boxes--some of them cases of books), answering phone calls, shredding. That's the way the afternoon went, and I loved every minute.

Across the street from the office are these beautiful trees that just started to blossom a few days ago.  I have a feeling that this place is going to absolutley erupt with color one of these days and it's going to be magnificent.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Learning to Live by the Spirit

I'm writng today's blog backwards in an effort to fit in text and pictures the way I want them and not the way the computer wants them.  After church we drove through the sleepy litte town of Plaquemine. Maybe it's only sleepy on Sundays.  I don't really know. We'd seen something that said the largest Catholic church in Louisiana, St. John the Evangelist, is here. We actually found it with no problem--kind of hard to miss! Unfortunately it was locked up tighter than a drum. I guess they don't hang around and have more meetings and visit like we do.  Anyway, we'll absolutely make a point of visiting there at Christmas. The rectoy was beautifully decorated with the nativity, shepherds, wise men and everything you'd expect to see in Bethlehem at that sacred time of year.  I wanted to see the 150' aisle so that's when I found a picture on the internet. It'll have to do for now.

I just love going to our little branch.  Apparently the past 2-3 have been unusually "crowded" with visitors, but today it was more just the usual local members. And I was beginning to think that it was a pretty big branch.  It was High Council Sunday and the Brother Hansen brought his daughter, Ryland, as his companion speaker.  What a delight she was!

Ryland hadn't been given a specific subject, so she chose her own--something she said she needed to work on--patience. She had my attention from the start! Ryland said that patience is a virture and necessary to attain all of the Young Women Values.

Sister Thornley, one of the sister missionaries, also spoke. She said that each week their district works specifically on a Christlike attribute and shared a personal story from a few months ago about learning patience with a new companion. But her principal message was listening to and understanding the Spirit.  She had some outstanding things to say and, of course, used scriptures, but I want to try to pen a personal experience that shared.  It happened when she was about 10 years old.  She'd gone with an older sister to pick up her sister's paycheck. Her sister asked if she'd be okay waiting in the car while she ran in to Taco Time.  Sister Thornley said yes, and was waiting in the back seat of the car with the engine running when something told her to get down and stay down.  She didn't even look around but immediately leaned over, probably with her little heart pounding, when she heard a car pull up by her and a very vocal man got out.  She didn't know why he was so loud but thought he might be drunk. After a few minutes the noise stopped a she again felt something telling her that it was alright to get up.  She did and saw nothing.  She said she cried all the way home but was so relieved.  Quoting from her words, she said, "Trust me. I don't want to know what would've happened."  That's such a good lesson--not needing to know why she listened to the Spirit.  She just did and was blessed!

Brother Hansen's assigned topic was self-reliance and emergency preparedness. Much of his talk was taken from Elder L. Tom Perry's conference talk, October 1995, "If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear."  I can refer to that at any time, so what I'm posting is something he largely quoted from about an experience that happened in Santiago, Chile in 2010.  I'd read this before and asked Brother H where to find it as it's not on but was in the Church News in March, 2010.  It's somewhat lengthy but well worth reading and brought tears to my eyes as it refers to two things I'm becoming well acquainted with--missionaries and earthquakes.

Sister Lisa Laycock, wife of Chile Santiago East Mission President Larry Laycock, sent an e-mail to family and friends about the earthquake that hit the country on Feb. 27. She asked that her message be shared "in hopes it may inspire others." Here are excerpts from her e-mail:

"I am writing to let you all know how very grateful we are for your prayers, concern, and love. Please keep praying! We need the Lord's help and guidance in order to do all He would have us do to learn what He would have us learn from this earthquake tragedy, and to minister in the way He would have us minister. During the past few days, we have witnessed many events which serve to remind us that the Lord is in charge and that as missionaries and members of His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are performing His work, and as President [Thomas S.] Monson teaches, 'When we are on the Lord's errand, we are entitled to His help.' I want to share with you a few miracles that will help you to understand our profound feelings of gratitude.

"When we were set apart for this calling, Elder [Richard G.] Scott of the [Council] of the Twelve Apostles taught us many important lessons. He spoke from personal experience when he was a mission president in Argentina. One message that he shared with us is this: 'At times, during your mission, you will be awakened in the middle of the night or the early morning hours with thoughts of specific things you should do for certain missionaries. Do not ignore these thoughts. They are promptings from the Holy Ghost who will communicate with you in the stillness of the night or the peace of the early morning hours. He will speak to you then because that is when you are still enough to hear.' Elder Scott further instructed us to keep a notebook beside our bed so that we could record these precious promptings. He said that by the next morning, we would be likely to forget the promptings if we didn't write them down.

"We have been astonished at the fulfillment of Elder Scott's prophetic words. We have received many promptings in the exact manner that Elder Scott described. We are so thankful that Elder Scott taught us how to recognize and act upon these precious promptings. Had he not taught us, we may not have given these promptings the attention they require.
"Nearly two and one half weeks [before the earthquake], I was awakened at around 4 a.m. by just such a prompting. I did not hear a voice, but the thought was as clear as if it had been in the form of spoken words: 'There is going to be an earthquake. Prepare your missionaries.' I sat up in bed and immediately remembered Elder Scott's counsel. That morning I told Larry what had happened. He immediately set to work organizing our missionaries to prepare for an earthquake.

"In talking with our office missionaries to arrange for them to put together a list of everything we would need to both Spanish and English...we discovered that the Lord had also let two of our office missionaries know of the possibility of an earthquake (in the form of dreams) and the need to prepare our mission. We set a goal and arranged our schedule so that we could visit every apartment in the mission to check for safety and to review with our missionaries what to do in case of an earthquake. What a wonderful experience we have had as we have met with them and shared scriptures with them about being spiritually and physically prepared. '...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear' (D&C 38:30). We instructed every missionary to have a "go-bag" (36 hour kit). We reviewed our emergency action plan with them of where to go and what to do if they had phone service and in case they did not. We gave everyone a paper with all instructions in English and Spanish, and we reminded them that 'this life is the time to prepare to meet God' (Alma 34:32-34). We shared with them our thoughts and feelings about the need for spiritual and physical safety. Some of them became frightened and asked us if we knew something they didn't know. We smiled and repeated '...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.' We didn't want to unduly alarm them, but we did want to impress upon them the need to be prepared. We tearfully reminded them of our recent transfer conference where we had shared our feelings about our dear Elder McKay Burrows who was unexpectedly called home in January while serving his mission in he was prepared in every way to meet God. We reissued our challenge to 'be prepared' in every way. Then we knelt with them in their apartment and dedicated each apartment, asking for a blessing of safety and security to be upon every apartment.

"When the earthquake came, we were prepared. We did not experience the panic that many felt. We knew we were prepared. Because of the words of the Lord's chosen apostle, Elder Scott, we had listened and heeded the quiet, but clear promptings of the Holy Ghost. We were blessed with peace in the midst of chaos. We learned an important lesson: our preparation helped us to avoid panic and fear, but the Lord, in His wisdom, allowed us to experience enough discomfort to know that He has all power. He is in charge. We are nothing without Him. We are dependent upon Him for every breath we take. Only He can save us from death and destruction. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is our perfect example. If we follow Him, we will be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of His Gospel.
"As the earthquake became more violent, the mission home groaned and wailed. The power died, so the whole city was black. The windows made a hideous screeching sound, and flying objects banged against swaying walls. The printer/fax machine, books, book ends, and fifty-pound television burst from the entertainment center and crashed to the floor, cabinets emptied, drawers flew open, the refrigerator moved, water sloshed out of the toilets, the floor jolted up and down as we ran across it trying to hold onto the walls to keep from falling down, and the piano toppled over like a small toy. As we made our way to the back yard, I remember thinking, 'God is all-powerful. He is our only refuge from this horrible mess.' I prayed and prayed for Him to still the earth. When we reached the back yard, we watched in terror. By the light of the moon we could see the swimming pool water form giant waves and crash out onto the rocks. House and car alarms screamed into the night...some from being crushed by falling debris and others I guess from the bizarre movement of the earth. I am not sure if the intense rumbling sounds came from the earth itself or from everything else that was shaking so violently. Finally, it stopped. When the calm came, we had to sit down because our legs were weak and unstable. My legs stayed wobbly all day and night yesterday. Today (Feb. 28) the muscles in my legs hurt like I ran a marathon. The aftershocks have been extremely unsettling. Each one begins like the one last night started. We just close our eyes and wait to see if it escalates or dies down. I have never experienced anything like this!

"We were awakened this morning by a very strong after shock....

"Today, we attended a strong ward where [President Laycock] was invited to speak. The entire chapel and beyond was filled. People were so humble and so teachable. [He] taught the importance of doing the small things. He taught about Jesus Christ and the opportunity we have to love one another and to share what we have with others. It was a great blessing for us to be with these beautiful Chilean people. Some have lost their homes...or at least parts of their homes. But they are strong and they want to serve the Lord. He taught of the scripture in Luke 21:11, 13 which says, 'and great earthquakes shall be in divers places...and it shall turn to you for a testimony.' He also welcomed the sweet young woman who was in the congregation with the missionaries...her first time attending church...and then [from the pulpit] he invited her to be baptized. He asked her to please invite us to her baptism, and she said, "I will." The Lord always knows what His people need. [Our son] Landon was reading in Alma 15:17 today. He said, 'Mom listen to this. This is what is happening here in Chile just like in happened in Ammonihah. The people were humbled and "checked as to the pride of their hearts and began to humble themselves before God, watching and praying continually that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction."'

"Our hearts are filled to the brim with gratitude for all of the blessings we have received in the Chile Santiago East Mission. We see miracles every day. In the midst of great pain and suffering, we can always find our Savior. He stands with His arms open, pleading for all of us to humble ourselves and come unto Him. He loves us. He invites us to accept His gift...the Atonement. He invites us to repent. He wants us to love one another and to serve one another. He wants us to bring our families and those we love to Him. We can do it. We can do all that He asks, no matter how difficult it may

"We are having a devotional tomorrow (March 1) for all of our missionaries to talk about the last week of Christ's life in preparation for Easter. We want to remind our missionaries to teach and preach with increased vigor and 'animo' of Christ. ..."seem. 'With God all things are possible.'...

 Published in The Church News, Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Moving Day #3

Today was our third and, hopefully, final move for the duration of our mission.  We actually started last night after we closed the office.  By the time we transferred all the bedroom and bathroom items we were ready for bed.  Elder Adkins and Elder Watkins called at 7 this morning and Marc was already at the old apartment, so they hopped right over and helped move the heavier and bulkier items, ie. TV, computer, kitchen stuff, canned good, etc.

Once everything was in the new location we took them to breakfast at Frank's--the place with the yummy biscuits. Elder Watkins had alligator sausage.  Mmmm! Elder Adkins and I went for the deliciously boring chicken fried steak and biscuits.  Now that was good.  We also ordered a plate of sweet potato biegnets.  They were scrumptious because they were more like bunuelos, and they had a reasonable amount of powdered sugar--not the whole 1 lb. box!

Here are a few pics of our newest accommodations.  It's spacious and comfortable.  What more could we want?
It has 2 bedrooms (the master has a king bed. I won't miss the queens from the past 2 months. Queen's in the guest bedroom for anyone who ventures to the South.)  Also a large pantry, comfy couch and love seat. Life is good in Louisiana!  There's also a nice balcony which is really pleasant right now--in the winter!  I don't think it will be so pleasant by April.

As you can see, I'm still trying to gain control over how to format this blog. When I edit it looks prfet, then it's gets published and nothing looks the same.